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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Why Farm?

I remember often as I was growing up being at the farm when my grandpa and uncles were farming. I also remember many times where they were quite unhappy with the equipment as it was broken and deadlines were needing to be met.

Yesterday, Ethan, myself, and the kids took the day to go pick up some more cattle. At noon we stopped at a roadside historical marker to have lunch. We were about 2 1/2 hours from home and about 45 minutes away from the farm we were heading to. Before Ethan got a chance to bite into his sandwich, he noticed a problem with the trailer tire. We soon discovered that the bearings were no more.

We couldn't pull the trailer back into town so we unhooked it and drove the truck back to see if we could get some help. Ethan ran in and out of shops trying to find someone who could help. Some of the responses he got included: "We're about ready to go home." (Turning to fellow employee.) "Do you want to do it?" (Fellow employee) "No." Also, "We don't do that kind of thing here." And, "Yeah we do that, but the mechanics just went home."

So we headed back and sat by the trailer to finish lunch. Ethan called his dad, who owns the trailer and lived about 1 1/2 hours away. He said he would come help out, but it would be a bit until he could get away. We took the kids to a park for awhile and then went and sat by the trailer again to wonder if we were going to be able to get our cattle.

Around 3:30 Ethan's dad and brother arrived with some tools, and they got to work. After some more running around, we were able to locate the parts that we needed (or at least that were close enough) and got the trailer temporarily fixed. Off we went to get our cattle, and we were able to unload our new additions to our herd and get home 15 minutes before midnight.

So what's so appealing about farming? I think there are many things, but one thing stuck out to me today - the importance of community and helping others out.

As we were sitting along the side of the road with a tire laying on the ground and with our 3 1/2 year old and 22 month old, there were many, many cars that drove right on by. Some of them would slow down and look and then keep going. Some of them would slow down and look, wave, and then keep going. I'm sure they had places to go, people to see, and deadlines to meet.

The whole time we were there we had one guy step out of his truck and ask if we needed anything. He was a farmer. An interesting thing about farmers is they also have deadlines to meet, many of which effect their income - getting crops in before the rain, getting crops out before the rain, taking care of livestock to keep them healthy and productive. This farmer that stopped even had a deadline for today he was trying to meet and was having problems lining up equipment, but he still stopped. He even drove back later when he came up with an idea for us. I think he realized the importance of community and helping others out.

Also, when we finally located a part we needed, it was in another town. The owner of a trailer business was just about ready to leave for an event he was helping with, but he said that he would stick around for us. When we got to his business we saw that it was located right beside his house on his farm. I think this man also realized the importance of community and helping others out.

Now, I'm not trying to idolize farmers. I know there were a lot of farmers that drove right past us . . . many times. There was a coop down the road and we watched them take their grain in throughout the afternoon. I also know that there are lots of non-farmers that realize the importance of community and helping others out. But I think that when you are a farmer you often depend on help from the community and from others and begin to realize the importance of it.

That is one thing that I think is missing in our culture. So many people fence themselves in: their property and their lives. I think we have a lot to learn from those who don't. And that is one of the reasons that farming appeals to me.

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